Despite the much anticipated “pet-friendly” amendments to the new strata legislation, animals are still not automatically permitted in strata schemes even if they are kept wholly within the boundaries of an individual’s apartment.
Last month, two of Sydney’s biggest apartment towers won their battle to ban owners’ pets from their buildings in a verdict that will have far-reaching repercussions for NSW strata residents.
The 260-apartment Horizon in Darlinghurst and the 280-unit Elan in Kings Cross had lost the right in previous cases before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), to enforce their bylaws to keep their premises animal free. However, now both buildings have won on appeal to NCAT in a decision announced on Wednesday.
So, can you keep pets in your apartment or not?
To determine what the keeping of animals position and pet rules for strata is in relation to any particular scheme you must refer to all the by-laws registered on the certificate of title for the common property.
Owners corporations can choose to adopt the sample model by-laws or make changes to them to manage issues in strata like overcrowding, pets, parking, and smoke drift. Schemes are not required to adopt or adapt any of the model by-laws, they are available to assist schemes in reviewing and making by-laws to suit their scheme.
Model by-laws need to be approved by the owners corporation and registered with NSW Land Registry Services.
The model by-laws include options for:
- permitting pets
- dealing with nuisance or hazardous smoking
- helping owners corporations address noise and short-term letting
- measures to prevent overcrowding
The model by-laws provide owners corporations with options to control whether pets are allowed, and on what terms. For example, the owners corporation may choose to have a by-law which:
- bans pets on the property altogether (other than assistance animals)
- allows owners to keep a pet and simply provide 14 days’ notice from when the pet has started living on the lot owner’s property, or
- allows a pet with the written permission of the owners corporation. This particular model by-law states that the owners corporation cannot unreasonably refuse the request. If they do refuse, they must give the owner written reasons outlining why the pet is not being permitted.
In all cases if pets are allowed, the lot owner must still supervise their pet, clean any common property that is soiled, and ensure their pet is not noisy or negatively impacting on other residents.
Even if a strata scheme allows pets, a tenant always needs their landlord’s permission first.
If your scheme proposes changes to the by-laws, these must be put to a special resolution vote at a owners corporation meeting.
The new by-laws also need to be registered with NSW Land Registry Services within six months after the special resolution has been passed. This can be done by lodging a Consolidation/Change of By-Laws form. Tenants must also be notified of any change in by-laws.
We recommend doing your research before deciding to move into a strata scheme with any animal.
If you’d like to review more information, Fair Trading outlines By-laws in strata schemes.